Friday, December 23, 2016

Cabbage Rolls

I've had this one from the southern food section of bookmarked for months.  I just haven't gotten around to it.  So I picked a day that I really didn't have the time to do it and kind of rushed the whole thing.

Aside from getting the leaves off the cabbage, it's really easy.  Drop a handful of a quickie meatloaf mix into the leaves and fold them up, then drown it in a simple tomato-based sweet-and-sour sauce.  Do something else for an hour while it's cooking, thicken up the tomato sauce, and you're done.

While I agree with her discovery that frozen cabbage will be soft when it defrosts, I don't recommend it.  It's soft because the water in the cells turned into jagged ice crystals and cut through the cell structure.  She just used the leaves before they could wilt or get slimy.  It's the same concept as how frozen spinach looks pre-cooked because it has wilted and the cells are crushed and soaked.  If you tear off the leaves you need and blanch them, the core will still be usable.  Although, I was pretty close to dropping the whole head in the pot and hoping the leaves would fall off by themselves; it's the hardest part of the recipe.  You're going to have almost half a cabbage left after you fill these.  I made the cabbage and apple part of the German corned beef and cabbage with it.

1 large head of cabbage
1 lb 90/10 or 93/7 ground beef (you could use ground chicken or turkey)
3/4 C cooked rice (I used brown)
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1 egg
1/4 C milk
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
3 Tb vinegar
2 Tb sugar
1/2 C water
2 Tb cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 C cold water

1.  Carefully peel off 12 to 15 leaves from the cabbage.  I kept cutting off the bottom so the core was not attached to the leaf.  It's ok if you can't get that many large leaves.  Just overlap some of the smaller ones.  Drop into a large pot half filled with boiling water and blanch until the color gets vibrant and the leaves soften, no more than 5 minutes.  Drain.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine ground beef, rice, onion, egg, milk, salt, and pepper.  In a separate bowl, combine tomato sauce, diced tomatoes in their juice, vinegar (I used a combination of apple cider and rice vinegars), sugar, and water.  Start preheating the oven to 350º.
3.  Lay out a couple of cabbage leaves on a work surface with a casserole dish nearby.  Place a handful of the meat mixture near the bottom of the middle of the leaf.  Fold in the sides, then fold the top down. Turn over and place, seam side down, in the casserole.  Continue until you run out of meat, about 10-12 rolls.
4.  Pour sauce over the rolls and bake until the middle of the fattest one reaches at least 165º, about 45 minutes to an hour.  Remove rolls to a serving plate.  Pour the sauce into a skillet (easier than trying to hit a narrow saucepan) and stir in the cornstarch slurry.  Bring to a low boil and cook until thickened.  Serve rolls with sauce.

Serves 4 to 6

Difficulty rating  π

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